The Reboot: 2017 Review and Lesson Learned

When you finish a year in a whirlwind of change as I did in 2016, you look forward to the promises of a New Year to continue moving everything forward.

The bulk of 2016 was spent dealing with a move from Los Angeles to Hawaii, my home state. This move required custody issues, Hawaii quarantine logistics, selling a house and relocating my son to the approved school district in Hawaii.

The craze of the 2016 whirlwind culminated in spending Christmas Eve in our new home, no time to even get a tree up. Finally settled, I came up for air and began to look at how to reboot.

It seems odd, after all, my divorce began in 2004 and finalized in 2007. I had been single for a long time and done well to build a new career, launch and run some great businesses and live life on my own terms. We were finally home and living in a wonderful neighborhood where I felt my son could safely navigate high school without needing mom to drive him around daily.

Why would I need to reboot?

Because for all my successes I had never felt settled in California. There was always an underlying anxiety that something else was going to go wrong.

Doing the simple math, that’s more than a decade of living in an anxiety-ridden state despite being successful on so many levels. The result of this anxiety was one constant underlying theme: the risk taker stopped taking risks.

Over that time, I trudged through my business and freelance career. I ran an insurance agency. I dated here and there. But I never jumped fully – not in the way I had prior to my marriage and subsequent divorce. And I knew that every day this choice, yes it was a choice to succumb to my own anxiety and fear, was killing my soul.

Hence the reboot.

It didn’t take long to feel settled back in the islands. After all, it is Hawaii. Waiting for an agency opportunity, I rebuilt my freelance writing career and expanding my niche areas.

I found a new level of personal integrity, owning my mistakes as well as my desires. Living in the islands became the best excuse to seek balance as well, waking up early to finish contract work and then walking the beach in the afternoons.

As things began to hum along, I was offered an agency to take over with the start date of January 1, 2018. I began the training process and was nearly complete.

Then it happened: I blew my knee out in a 12-foot fall at the rock climbing gym. Unlike any injury I’ve had in my lifetime as an athlete, this has taken me down and rendered me practically useless. Sitting on a sofa or lying in a bed stuck on pain medications is not my idea of living. There is NO Netflix binge that can sustain this.

All those years of waiting for that anxiety to prove me right did just that – when I wasn’t looking. You can imagine the frustration of everything being put on hold. Agency training and opening dates deferred. My brain unable to focus on the simplest of tasks let alone writing assignments. My body is in total atrophy after months of finally getting back into shape.

But here’s the thing: prior to getting back to the islands, that underlying anxiety would have led to a complete meltdown, at least for a period of time. But as I wind the year down, still unable to walk, drive or put weight on my right leg, I find myself assessing the universe and it’s message to me.

I have quieted the voice of anxiety just enough to deal with the task at hand. No, it isn’t pleasant and I’m frustrated to be laid up for so long. I can’t sleep. I hate how pain medication makes me feel. My son is on holiday break and I can’t do anything fun with him.

It would be easy to say that all that great momentum I had developed just died. Certainly, I felt this way at times since November 26 when I got hurt.

Yet I am optimistic in a new way. I know I’ve been taking the risks my soul requires of me. Years of programming have the universe sending me a test of volition.

It’s true that the universe never keeps time in the fashion we desire. If it did, the last 5 weeks would have involved launching new and big things. Instead, I was forced to be still and remove the noise so I could hear what my inner voice was truly telling me.

Looking forward to 2018 and sharing some of these musings with you.

What have you learned about yourself in 2017 that will make 2018 better?

Love At Bandwidth Speeds – Friday Night Dating Sites

It’s late on a Friday night. I find myself home alone without even a good movie or book to dive into. My son has plans and is gone for the night while I flip through the channels of movies and shows all of which have some element of romance, love or sexual tension.

 

Watching this is painful. I can’t even lose myself in suspended disbelief. The concept of a real life man actually keeping eye contact with me for reason other than I accidentally cut him off on the freeway is the wildest fiction.

 

In spite of what everyone might think, I am indeed human. Like all other humans, I long for someone to connect with on various levels beyond freeway interludes where fingers are flipping me off rather than… flipping me off.

 

So I throw together a profile on one of the dating sites just to see who is out there. I’m not desperate. Let’s be clear. I am happy. I am comfortable with my life’s direction. At the same time, I would love to meet someone. This is that line in site About Me pages that says, “looking for someone to compliment my life.” Total utter garbage!

 

We are all liars!!!!!!!!

 

Here’s what happens next. The inbox gets twenty hits immediately because I’m fresh meat. Most introductory emails involve emojis complete with heart eyes.

 

Of those 20 hits, 8 are 15 years younger, 8 are 15 years older and 4 are in my age range but only two have pictures and a discerning eye might suggests that “athletic and toned” was a high school memory recalled when creating the profile.

 

It’s a nice ego boost.

 

I can still attract those looking for a MIFL or cougar or whatever the kids are calling it these days. I mean I only use Kik to spy on my son who uses Kik. Now you want me to “hit you up on Kik so we can learn about ourselves?” What does that mean?

 

How does Kik help us learn about ourselves? I’m pretty sure I’m okay on the understanding myself area. But the fact that I’m correcting grammar makes me sexy like a schoolteacher and then … they bring friends.

 

I start to think that they are all sitting in a room together. Bets are on to see which approach gets the desperate middle ager in the sack. Think about it; they are the same age, live in the same area and work in the same industry. Am I wrong to think they aren’t tossing some brews back with a white board of one-liners to see which works? Who isn’t looking for trouble on a Friday night?

 

Then there’s the next generation – not quite the greatest generation though I think some of these dudes might be lying about their age. Let’s face it. Women live longer than men and with you already 15, 20 or 30 years my senior; we’re counting the days down to your demise.

 

Sorry! That’s bitchy. I know.

 

But really, you expect us to travel the world and enjoy life’s spoils on a moment’s notice. How’s this for a moment’s notice: on Monday at 9 pm I’ll have to get printer ink for the term paper due Tuesday at 9 am that I was just told about 17 second ago by my son. Yes, I’m living my life by the seat of my on-fire-freaking pants.

 

I’m really not in a position to roam the world at will. I can barely roam my bathroom without interruption from my son for something he probably didn’t really need in the first place.

 

And for those who don’t have pictures or say “athletic and toned” while balancing a Corona on your beer belly, I say this, “Sorry, it doesn’t work for me.” Look, I’m not perfect. I rarely wear makeup, often wear a baseball cap and dress in workout clothes 95% of the time. I’m no beauty queen.

 

But at least my face in on the site. You can see me and I’m trying – as embarrassing as it might be to run into someone at the grocery store. I’m trying. I’m putting myself out there and quite frankly it sucks!

 

But telling me how “pretty and sexy” I am and “can we chat” without letting me see your face is like going to a bar and asking a girl out while wearing a bag on your head and saying “hey baby, want to be my #1? I’m tall with blue eyes and can’t you see my athletic and toned body?” I’m sure there are places in this world where that works, but not on my laptop in my bedroom on a Friday night.

 

Things that come out of a box with instructions in a language I don’t speak have more personality.

 

Now of course, I don’t expect to be the only one taking a risk and saying the first “hello.” When your profile says “tell you later” or “blah blah blah hate talking about me, so ask” you really aren’t helping me connect. Onward I go. Trying.

 

I search and read profiles and do my best to take something said, or an interest and make a connection or some stupid witty intro. It’s dating so yes I know it’s not perfect or suave or even cool. Again, I’m a bit of a dork. I get it. But I am trying!

 

Of course, I then realize that the one thing I didn’t notice in your profile is the age range of who you’re looking for. Never fails, I’m a year older than your desired age range. Of course, every man within my age group is looking to have that younger thang to make him feel virile instead of sterile.

 

I do get it. I have an age range too (that doesn’t include 15 years older or younger – more like five and five).

 

But I have a picture rappelling down a waterfall! You like hiking and camping. Isn’t that cause for exception to your age rule by a year or two? I mean, am I really that grotesque to my own age group? Are those in the 15 years plus and minus just assuming that I’m so ugly that I am desperate?

 

So on I plow through the email propositions. I’ve been in long-term relationships that don’t have as much dirty talk as you get in the first five lines of an online introduction.

 

It occurs to me through all of this that I need to consider why am I here on a dating site on a Friday night.

 

The answer is simple. I am desperate!

 

Not desperate in the sense of needing to hook up with a dude for sex. Not desperate that I need a man to come and rescue me from some horrible life I have. Not desperate for a relationship in a needy sense.

 

But I am desperate.

 

  • Desperate to feel mutually attracted to someone and get those butterflies when I think about meeting them.

 

  • Desperate to be able to be sarcastic, silly and flirtatious yet be taken seriously when I switch gears.

 

  • Desperate for an opportunity to find someone I connect with.

 

  • Desperate for someone to understand why just running out and meeting isn’t an easy thing for a single mom with dinner and homework duties and evening family rituals.

 

  • Desperate to not be trolled by scams of men fallen under desperate times like:

“My account got hacked and the bank hasn’t fixed it, I need to get my sweet young son a gift and he loves iTunes. Buy me an iTunes card baby.”

Or;

“I lost my wife to breast cancer and my son is my life. My profile says NJ but I’m on a peace keeping mission to Pakistan. Now that you’re in my life ….” – the world really should be much safer if this is true based on sheer number of men in this EXACT situation.

But really, I reply, “Hey” and we’re walking down the aisle?

 

Ladies, beware!

I’m not delusional. I realize that online dating, and dating in general isn’t perfect. I’m also fully aware of the difference between someone who just wants to hookup and someone looking for a relationship.

 

I honestly don’t judge anyone. I’ve had guys proposition me with things that make me blush – hard to do. And it’s cool when they take the no and say, “Hey, thanks for replying. Hope you find what you’re looking for.”

 

That’s awesome, healthy and appreciated. I almost want to do what you propositioned just because that was so stand up! Almost.

 

But really – I do hope those dudes (and dudettes if we must be honest) get what they are looking for too. Don’t we all deserve that?

 

Whether it’s a hookup or a long-term relationship? Whether its cuddles over a sunset or naughty reenactments from Fifty Shades of Grey? Whether its Sunday church or Sunday hikes or both? We are all there hoping to find our desires.

 

But I know that I’m not alone in my experience and knowledge that this is a lot to ask. The reality of online dating begins with that initial surge of ego boost but is usually followed by extreme disappointment. After all, if everyone hates it but still goes online, shouldn’t that increase the odds of finding someone to fit my bill?

 

Instead, by the end of the night I’ve changed my profile to private and not long after is deleted. In two months, I’ll be pissed when I get lonely again because I’ll try to create a new profile and the site automatically reverts to the old one that I now see totally sucks.

 

And so another Friday night will begin.

 

No, I’m not jaded – entirely. Is online dating the answer? Dunno! I’ve seen catastrophe and I’ve seen brilliantly happy marriages. But I think all of us need to protect our families, our hearts and ourselves.

 

Share your back-to-dating horror stories below.

 

Money

Putting My 8-Year Old In Charge of the Budget

I’m pretty lucky; I have a teenage son who not only thinks about things before he asks me for money but will walk through a grocery store and read labels and price shop.

 

He bought me a $235 backpack that I wanted for my birthday but only spent $109. He’s become quite the savvy shopper.

 

How do you instill financial awareness in kids these days?

 

Trust me, I had the same question years ago when my son was early in his elementary school years. Sure, my background in financial services offered some “smart insights” that I taught him about saving.

 

This happened out of frustration. I didn’t want to argue with my kid. I was frustrated with always feeling like the answer was, “No.” And having a sulky child in the back fo the car during my weekends with him sucked! Out of frustration one day, I handed him the money.

 

But the reality is those lessons are lofty ideas well above the comprehension of young minds. I did my share of barking, “that’s too expensive,” or “we can’t afford that,” or “I just bought you the other (insert one of 100 items) because you had to have it.” And I still bark, at times.

 

Financial discipline is hard to learn and hard to maintain.

 

So, I put my 8-year old in charge of the budget. And I’m really glad I did!

 

I know what you are thinking. Relax. He didn’t have the whole budget! I’m not as loony as some would claim!

 

Every Friday, we’d go over the plans for the weekend. I pulled out $40 from the bank and hand it to him. Outside of the $40, I would pay for groceries and gas. He had to pay for anything else over the weekend.

 

The weekend was Friday night through Sunday night. The money wasn’t an allowance or a gift. It was our recreation money for the weekend. It was his choice on how we spent the money: movies, eating out, toys or any other activity. The one rule was he had to include me in his choices, meaning he couldn’t just buy himself something to eat.

 

He had one extra incentive in the program. Any money left over on Sunday evening was his to put into his piggy bank.

 

The result?

 

The first couple of weekends he blew through most of the money on Happy Meals and movies by Saturday afternoon and we were at home watching tv and I was cooking for the weekend. He started to understand how quickly $40 disappears and how hard it is to remember what you spent it on. He also started to make tough decisions on the fly.

 

Then he started to plan. He remembered that I would go to Costco to buy movie tickets ahead of time. He realized that if we ate at home before we left, we could save $10-$15 on food on the way to something. He paused at the event vendor, saying, “$5 bucks for a hotdog is a lot of money mom.”

 

I would stand there and nod, “You’re right. But I’m hungry. We’ve been out all day.”

 

So there he stood, on a Sunday with his last $15 at the JPL Open House. We were both hungry but he really wanted to buy a keepsake. He took his time, I went and sat down on the grass and watched from the distance to see what he would do.

 

He came back with one hot dog and one soda, spending $7 of his last $15. I was a bit confused since the deal was he had to include me when he bought food. Yet he clearly only bought one “meal.”

 

Quietly, he counted his remaining money and put it in his pocket. He handed me the soda and said, I know you need caffeine, so this is for you. And the hot dog? ”We’re almost done here anyway.”

He took a big bite of the hot dog and then openly asked me for a sip of my soda, handing me the hot dog to share. I laughed as I watched him gulp down my soda as I took a huge bite of the hot dog.

 

He was right, this would hold us over until we got home and had dinner, though now I was forced to really make dinner. Little bugger! He worked the system- the system I established for him.

 

Over time, he became more aware of not just the cost of things but the difficulties in making decisions, especially when someone else was involved. There were times he would say, “Mom, why don’t you be in charge of the budget this weekend.” Other times he would jump at the opportunity to bank cash for something he was saving for.

 

In either case, I was fine with it because he started to ask for less things. We focused on experiences and time together rather than just buying slushies and hot wheels. And when he would ask, I was less likely to say no. But if I did, there was a new understanding as to why.

 

What have you done to teach your kids the value of money?